Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 95, Issue 2, pp 188–195 | Cite as

Estimating the Size of the MSM Population in Metro Vancouver, Canada, Using Multiple Methods and Diverse Data Sources

  • Ashleigh J. Rich
  • Nathan J. Lachowsky
  • Paul Sereda
  • Zishan Cui
  • Jason Wong
  • Stanley Wong
  • Jody Jollimore
  • Henry Fisher Raymond
  • Travis Salway Hottes
  • Eric A. Roth
  • Robert S. Hogg
  • David M. Moore


Men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately affected by HIV globally, regionally in Canada, and locally in Vancouver. Lack of reliable population size estimates of MSM impedes effective implementation of health care services and limits our understanding of the HIV epidemic. We estimated the population size of MSM residing in Metro Vancouver drawing on four data sources: the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), a cross-sectional bio-behavioural MSM survey, HIV testing services data from sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics serving MSM, and online social networking site Facebook. Estimates were calculated using (1) direct estimates from the CCHS, (2) “Wisdom of the Crowds” (WOTC), and (3) the multiplier method using data from a bio-behavioural MSM survey, clinic-based HIV testing, and online social media network site Facebook. Data sources requiring greater public disclosure of sexual orientation resulted in our mid-range population estimates (Facebook 23,760, CCHS 30,605). The WOTC method produced the lowest estimate, 10,000. The multiplier method using STI clinic HIV testing data produced the largest estimate, 41,777. The median of all estimates was 27,183, representing 2.9% of the Metro Vancouver census male adult population, with an interquartile range of 1.1–4.5%. Using multiple data sources, our estimates of the MSM population in Metro Vancouver are similar to population prevalence estimates based on population data from other industrialized nations. These findings will support understanding of the HIV burden among MSM and corresponding public health and health services planning for this key population.


MSM Population size HIV Canada Respondent-driven sampling 



This work was supported by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research [107544] and the National Institute for Drug Abuse at the National Institutes for Health [R01DA031055]. We thank the research participants for sharing their important data with the Momentum Health Study. We also thank our community-based partners on the Momentum Health Study Community Advisory Board for their input in this work, including representatives from the Health Initiative for Men, YouthCO HIV & Hep C Society of BC, and Positive Living Society of BC. DMM is supported by a Scholar Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashleigh J. Rich
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nathan J. Lachowsky
    • 1
    • 3
  • Paul Sereda
    • 1
  • Zishan Cui
    • 1
  • Jason Wong
    • 4
  • Stanley Wong
    • 4
  • Jody Jollimore
    • 5
  • Henry Fisher Raymond
    • 6
  • Travis Salway Hottes
    • 4
    • 7
  • Eric A. Roth
    • 8
    • 9
  • Robert S. Hogg
    • 1
    • 10
  • David M. Moore
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Epidemiology and Population Health ProgramBritish Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDSVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.School of Public Health and Social Policy, Faculty of Human and Social DevelopmentUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  4. 4.British Columbia Centre for Disease ControlVancouverCanada
  5. 5.Health Initiative for Men (HIM)VancouverCanada
  6. 6.University of California—San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  7. 7.University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  8. 8.Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  9. 9.Centre for Addictions Research BCVictoriaCanada
  10. 10.Faculty of Health SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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